Sunday, February 27, 2011

Staying warm. Prague.

Prague is lovely...but so cold. I have to go inside a lot, to defrost and warm up. I'm wearing more clothes than I even thought I owned. So, to escape the interminable cold I have been eating - far too much. They love their meat products here, including this roasted pork knee (grilovane koleno). I've been to Germany, and Austria, but this is perhaps the biggest piece of meat I've ever seen one person been served. I tried, I really did, but it was ridiculously large!

Or alternatively
Eat ice cream!

Prague. February.

There is something very Eastern European about Prague. I'm not just taking about the need for my very very warm (and necessary) puffer jacket. It has a feeling about it, the knowledge that not too long ago the people here were separated from the rest of the world, just a little bit different. I like it though, the reminders of life behind the Iron Curtain. 1989.


Charles Bridge. Prague.
I'm on the bridge with one other person, a security guard. Gone are the crowds of people. The portrait painters, the souvenir sellers, the hopeful vying to touch the 'lucky' statue of John of Nepomuk are all sleeping peacefully. It's -10 degrees.

The statues are dark against the slowly brightening sky. They stand solid along the sides of the bridge, steadfast against the winter chill. St Francis, St Anne, St Cyril, St Ludmila (she's the grandmother of Good King Wenceslas who is also up there) and 25 others form an ecclesiastical guard for the people of Prague as they traipse their way over the bridge. For five hundred years, until 1841, this was the only crossing over the Vltava River. It joins the old town to the castle as well as providing a convenient place for a photo opportunity.
On March 20 1393 John of Nepomuk was thrown in the river and drowned for refusing to divulge what the queen had told him in confessional. Thus he became a martyr, and eventually national saint of Bohemia. Touch the base of the statue and you will one day come back to Prague. The cold metal looks burnished in the frozen dawn light. The sky turns an unearthly pink and
John looks up at the dawn. People start appearing, quietly at first, and then more and more. Soon the portrait painters start to appear.

It's time for breakfast (and defrosting) at the hotel.